Jack in the Box somehow makes my asthma worse.
Omar’s Highway Chef Restaurant September 26, 2008
There’s just something about truck stops. Trucking culture is an inclusive society but lucky for the rest of us it fosters the existence of wildly non exclusive restaurants. Omar’s Highway Chef Restaurant is just such a place. I’ve heard legends over the years about how good their pie is, but had never checked it out for myself. For starters it seemed like it was so far away, it’s located off I-10 at exit 268, which I want to say is Craycroft but either way it didn’t take that long to get there. Secondly, though I like pie, it isn’t something I crave on a regular basis.
Cater This by Sean Murphy: Your Cup Runneth Over September 24, 2008
(Between 1979 and 1986 I worked in the catering department at the University of Arizona Student Union. These are some of my stories.)
It should’ve been easy – lunch for thirty two in the President’s dining room (or PDR as we called it). Four round-tops seating eight apiece of which I was only responsible for two. Piece of cake.
Lunches were never much of a hassle anyway, it was dinners that sucked. At night everybody wanted to hang out and talk while we paced in the wings, waiting for them to leave so we could bus the tables and set up again – but lunches were pretty cut-and-dry; get’ em in, get ‘em fed, get ‘em out.
I’d served this group before – The Daughter’s of the American West, a social club of feisty senior-citizens bussed up from Green Valley every month to reminisce about the good ol’ days of cattle branding, barbed-wire fences and killing Indians. They never gave me much trouble, at most I’d have to reheat a plate or keep replenishing Sweet’N Low but not much else. What could possibly go wrong?
My first job was as a grocery bagger at a busy grocery store next door to my high school. It was between my eighth and ninth grade years, I was fifteen. There were many things to hate about that job. For some reason the one that really stuck in my craw was the fact that I had to wear a tie. What benefit did it serve the store to have a bunch of fifteen year olds running around in poorly knotted ties? Seriously, one guy showed up who had his tied in a square not. This was the first tie I’d ever been forced to wear or own, it had an image of the Lone Ranger on it. Why the Lone Ranger? I have no idea. It must have been on sale at Name Brand Clothing, a precursor to TJ Maxx where our mom diligently searched the racks for high quality knock offs or damaged real things a few times a month. I hated wearing that tie, “What are we, waiters?” I used to ask my fellow “courtesy clerks.”
Food In The News: Fuck Hershey’s September 19, 2008
Chocoholics sour on new Hershey’s formula
Former fans kissed off about replacement of cocoa butter with vegetable oil.
Bitter reaction to cheap chocolate
Sept. 19: Hershey’s, America’s top chocolate maker, is switching to cheaper ingredients in some of its products. TODAY consumer correspondent Janice Lieberman reports.
Oh, milk chocolate. Wherefore art thou?
Apparently not in some Hershey’s products that contained milk chocolate for years, and that has passionate chocolate aficionados fighting mad.
Products such as Whatchamacallit, Milk Duds, Mr. Goodbar and Krackel no longer have milk chocolate coatings, and Hershey’s Kissables are now labeled “chocolate candy” instead of “milk chocolate.”
What’s going on here? On Friday, TODAY consumer correspondent Janice Lieberman reported that Hershey’s has switched to less expensive ingredients in several of its products. In particular, cocoa butter — the ingredient famous for giving chocolate its creamy, melt-in-your-mouth texture — has been replaced with vegetable oil.
The removal of cocoa butter violates the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s definition of milk chocolate, so subtle changes have appeared on the labels of the Hershey’s products with altered recipes. Products once labeled “milk chocolate” now say “chocolate candy,” “made with chocolate” or “chocolatey.”
Some say the label changes are too difficult to spot.
“A lot of people don’t notice it. The package looks exactly the same,” said Cybele May, who has chronicled the changes in detail on her Candy Blog. “I feel betrayed by Hershey’s. They’re giving me an inferior product and they’re not even telling me …
“I call it mockolate, which is basically a fake chocolate product.”
Crunched by rising costs
In a statement, Hershey’s told TODAY that consumers love its products and all its candies are clearly labeled. It still offers real milk chocolate in Hershey’s Kisses, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups and its classic chocolate bar.
“And recently it put back the milk chocolate in Almond Joy because consumers complained,” Lieberman said Friday in her report.
Experts say that while many manufacturers cope with higher costs by increasing their prices or reducing their product sizes, Hershey’s change was meant to be less noticeable to customers.
“Clearly food costs, commodities costs have been rising for some time now,” Harry Balzer of the market research firm The NPD Group told TODAY. “The real question is, how will they pass along these costs to consumers without hurting their profits?”
May said the recipe change has ruined the Hershey’s taste for her. But in a blind taste test conducted by TODAY, about half of the participants said they liked the new Hershey’s Kissables even better than the Kissables with cocoa butter.
Nevertheless, some taste-testers were alarmed to learn about the switch from cocoa butter to vegetable oil. One woman said she felt “kind of cheated.”
Fudging the standards?
In terms of calories and fat content, the change from cocoa butter to vegetable oil hasn’t affected the candies significantly. Nutritionists do point out that cocoa butter can offer health benefits — specifically by protecting chocolate’s antioxidant properties. What’s more, cocoa butter doesn’t raise cholesterol levels.
Last year, a number of industry groups lobbied for a change to the FDA’s definition of chocolate — a change that would have allowed cocoa butter to be replaced with vegetable oil. At the time, Hershey’s spokesman Kirk Saville told the Harrisburg Patriot-News that “there are high-quality oils available which are equal to or better than cocoa butter in taste, nutrition, texture and function, and are preferred by consumers.”
The proposed definition change caused a furor among chocolate connoisseurs, who sent hundreds of outraged letters to the FDA. In June 2007, the agency assured them that they had nothing to fear.
“Chocolate lovers need not be alarmed about the future of their favorite product,” the FDA said in a consumer update. “Cacao fat, as one of the signature characteristics of the product, will remain a principal component of standardized chocolate.”
The Cafeteria at Ikea September 16, 2008
Valarie and I drove to Ikea yesterday, mostly out of boredom and a recent paycheck. Once braving the horrid drive up I-10 we were hungry and wanting to eat at the mythical Pizzeria Bianco. Unfortunately, after a call placed to Sarah, we learned that it was closed on Sundays and Mondays (My days off) and only open for dinner. Since we were stopped right by Ikea and Valarie didn’t think she could shop around without eating something first we decided to eat at the Ikea cafeteria.
If I were to compare the food at the Ikea Cafeteria to food I’ve eaten at museums, zoos or amusement parks it would get a favorable review. However, I review restaurants on this blog so I’m going to have to review it against other restaurants. That being the case, the food was sub par. I had a plate of penne and meatballs with a piece of garlic toast and a small salad on the side. The pasta was gummy and flavorless, the sauce odd with big hunks of zucchini being the only taste willing to be identified outside of canned tomato. The meatballs were the same ones you get with the Swedish meatballs. The garlic toast was the clear winner on my tray, of course who could fuck up garlic toast? My salad had a nice mix of greens but the only other additional component was some cherry tomatoes. I ate six of them, pretty fresh.
Valarie had the chicken fingers. The must of tasted better than they looked since she ate all four of them. The fries were pretty average, though I’ve definitely had worse. I always find it funny when I order something as an adult that I might have ordered when I was eleven. Sometimes it makes me feel like I still haven’t grown up but other times I respect the decision, I mean, how can you go wrong with chicken fingers? Eating at the cafeteria at Ikea is the perfect opportunity for such a transgression.
The only thing that really bothered me at Ikea’s cafeteria was the little guilt trip they lay on you about bussing your own tables. I have no problem bussing my own table, I just don’t like being told to do so. There was a little sign that mentioned our self bussing allowed them to keep their prices low. I’m not worried about the fucking overhead at god damn Ikea, the furniture is so cheaply made their mark up must be five hundred percent. Plus if they hired more people to buss tables there would be more people in Phoenix with jobs. So the only thing I really have to say to the Ikea Cafeteria is, “Screw you, guilt mongers.”
I give the Ikea cafeteria four self bussed tables. Valarie bought a bunch of stuff including a pretty cool rug and something to keep cereal in. I don’t think in seven years I’ve ever even heard Valarie mention eating cereal. We used that container to hold a banana peel on the way home. I bet it’s still in there.